Tonight’s Blue-White Scrimmage presents Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson a final opportunity to present their cases for making Team USA. Warrior fans will have an added interest tuning into the Team USA scrimmage when the ball tips tonight at the Thomas and Mack Center,. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be opponents for the first time in their professional careers.
The Blue-White Scrimmage is the players the opportunity to show the coaching staff why they should be selected. The Chicago Bulls’ website announced the rosters for the USA Basketball Showcase yesterday:
“The USA White Team, coach by USA assistant coach and Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, includes Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Durant; Harden; Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks); Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks); and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors).”
The USA Blue Team, which will be led by USA assistant coach and New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams, includes (Stephen) Curry; Davis; DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks); Plumlee; Rose; and John Wall (Washington Wizards).
The surplus of talent in the backcourt has put versatility at a premium. Throughout the week Stephen Curry has been seen primary playing shooting guard, while Klay Thompson has played both SG and Small Forward. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, Jerry Colangelo will be looking to add versatility to the final 12-man roster:
“It’s hard to create more than two pure points (on the roster),” Colangelo said. “Kyrie is a pure point. John Wall is a point. Derrick is a point. Curry can play point, but he’s a two (shooting guard). Harden is a two-three (shooting guard-small forward). Damian is a tweener also – he goes both ways.”
“We’re talking about a couple of points and maybe three twos that also play three and also play one,” Colangelo explained.
By Colangelo’s comments it can be deduced Curry is more likely competing with Lillard for the 3rd PG/SG combo position on the roster. Klay Thompson is likely competing with the smaller wings (Harden, Beal, DeRozan) for one of potentially 2 positions.
“This isn’t evaluating one individual and his game,” Krzyzewski said Thursday. “It’s about evaluating a group and how a group will go together. All these guys are outstanding players. It’s just a matter of how we feel they can mesh as a unit.”
Either way, the depth along the perimeter has made the decision for roster spots a dilemma for the coaching staff. Both Warriors are seen as having strong chances to make the team. Curry in particular is viewed by most as a lock to make the team. NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog wrote this morning:
There are six guys who, barring injury, will absolutely on the team as it opens pool play at the World Cup on Aug. 30. They are (in alphabetical order) …
Stephen Curry – Curry didn’t play big minutes on the 2010 team that won gold in Istanbul, but he’s blown up on the NBA level since. It looks like he’ll be the sixth man, though he could be a starter at either guard position.
While Klay Thompson isn’t seen as an obvious lock like Stephen Curry, he’s gaining momentum and support among those at the camp, according to NBA.com’s Hangtime Blog:
The rest of the core
So, if there are six locks and a seven- or eight-man core, who makes up the rest of the core? Colangelo wouldn’t bite at that question, but said they’re pretty set on who it is.
“That’s been pretty consistent,” he said. “It just depends. Is the core group seven or is it eight?”
The best bet to be that seventh or eighth guy is Klay Thompson, a guy who can shoot and play a little D on the wing.
The Team USA Blue-White game can be seen tonight at 6pm on ESPN. The final selected squad will represent the USA in spain later this month at the FIBA World Cup.